Problems with binge eating

Hi everyone, wanting to hear your experiences and/or advice about binge eating and diabetes–and how to stop.

Ever since I was diagnosed with Type 1 twelve years ago, I have been obsessed with food, particularly sweets. It seems like once someone told me I couldn’t have something or had to pay attention to what I ate, I couldn’t stop. It has gotten worse over the years. I especially have problems bingeing on sweets, which would be bad for anyone, let alone a diabetic. I allow my blood sugars to go high after these binge sessions.

Does anyone else have this problem? Any ideas for how to stop? I need help. Thank you!

Seek counseling. I have similar issues and have been able to fight it for the first time in my life. Find a good counselor who deals with eating disorders and get help.

Thanks, Matthew. I think this is probably what I will have to do. I have tried many things. I am able to get it under control for days, weeks, sometimes even months, but then it–the bingeing–returns with a vengeance.

Unfortunately my life is in a bit of a transition right now, so it may be a couple of months before I am able to find and establish a counselor. It would be great if you could share any insight you have gained from your experience with similar problems. I am at my wit’s end.

Hi Elizabeth

I definitely can understand what you are going through. I have 15 years recovery from my eating disorder. I was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago and have come to realize how grateful I am for every day of recovery I have. Diabetes definitely brings up issues around food and unfortunately eating disorders are common especially in young women. I agree with Matthew to get counseling because as a diabetic you can’t afford to binge. Life with an eating disorder, even without diabetes is miserable and painful. If you can’t get counseling for a couple months you might want to try attending a meeting of Overeater’s Anonymous which is free and available in all major cities. If you want to send me a private message we can talk more in depth about what works.

I tend to binge eat when my sugars go high for no reason. I figure if they are going to be high I may as well eat something sweet to justify it. Getting out of it is a mind thing. When I’m at work I’m okay with it, it’s just when I’m at home or on the weekends. True it doesn’t help that my boyfriend thinks he is being nice to me by buying ice cream and such. He still needs to be soooo educated.

Good luck to you.


While I don’t think it directly addresses your problem, maybe you should consider switching to a pump. My pump has allowed me greater flexibility in my eating choices and I can get away with the occasional sweet indulgence (I love glazed munchkins, can it get anyworse than that for a diabetic)? Maybe through counseling and change in your method of managing your diabetes you can find your happy medium. Best of luck!

For many of us with eating disorders in time we find that just like an alcoholic, we cannot eat a small amount of sweets. We can’t stop once we start. I struggled with my ED for many years until I recognized and accepted that I needed to completely cut out sugar. Once I did that, and a month or two had passed, the cravings went away. After 15 years I have absolutely no desire to eat sugar. Someone can eat the most appealing desert right in front of me and it doesn’t phase me. Diabetics with eating disorders have different issues to deal with than diabetics without EDs. When I began working on managing my diabetes I found that some of the things I had to do were the exact opposite of what I’d worked so hard to learn about my ED. But fortunately many things do overlap.

I agree with those who say Counseling - but I’d like to add that if one adds 9 grams protein to breakfast, and 12-18 grams protein lunch and supper, the desire to binge is lessened. Eating carbs does not allow satiety to take hold. So substitute protein - whatever you like. I do Morningstar links in the morning, a can of tuna fish, chicken, or salmon with mayo etc. at noon. At supper, 3 oz of some sort of protein. Of course I have to allow 2/3 unit Humalog for 9 grams and 1.5 units for 18 grams. I am so frightened of the research that says that above 140 one’s cells have complications/inflammation/death, that I decided to fill a page a day with what I ate and how long it took before I became hungry.

I often joke that being diabetic is another way to say “doctor sanctioned eating disorder”. We have to be so focused on food it’s no wonder some of us have issues with binge eating. I agree with the rest of the group, seek counseling and ask when you set up the appointment if the therapist has experience working with diabetics. Many clinicians who have training in eating disorders do not have any training or experience with working with diabetics who have eating issues. It is an area that is sorely lacking in graduate programs.

I can relate to what you are experiencing. What helped me was to not have the foods I liked to binge on in the house. Everything was thrown in the trash and I didn’t buy those foods at the store anymore. For any snack foods that were left in the house, I purchased individual serving packs (I know they cost more but they keep me from bingeing). That way if I eat a pack and go to open another, it gives me time to really think about whether I really need to have that extra food and I can make the choice not to eat anymore. It makes me feel in control rather than controlled by the food. It didn’t happen overnight, heck it probably took me 6 months or more to get a handle on my overeating but I built on each success I had and kept trying. Plus I spoke with a colleague (another counselor) when I needed some support.

You should be proud of yourself for starting this conversation. It took courage to type these words and be honest with yourself. You sound like you are ready to make a change and you can do it!

I can certainly relate to you, Elizabeth! I’ve had diabetes for 17 years and consider myself someone with an eating disorder, for sure. I have a friend that has an ED and we share very similar thoughts and ideas, and yet have two totally different stories. I binge eat…especially when I’m high - I crave food!! I have sought counseling and it had been MOST beneficial. I have not, though, followed through with my sessions and find myself back sliding more and more. It sucks, and I’m sorry. I know how it feels. I’m really of no help for encouragement because I’m right in the middle of it, myself. People say that one day the light bulb will go off and I will realize what I’m doing.

It feels like wanting what you’ve been told your WHOLE LIFE you can’t have. I can definitely identify with you on this one. Message me if you ever need to talk.

Thank you all for your support. It really does help me to know that I am not the only one. I don’t know any other T1’s, so often I feel alone in this. It is comforting to know that others have been through the same thing.

“Doctor sanctioned eating disorder” is a great way of putting it, Suzanne. I never had problems like this until someone told me I had to watch my eating! Sometimes I think it’s because diabetes has prevented me from ever losing control like others. As a teenager I would watch others binge drink and know that I could never be that out of control because of my health. I didn’t necessarily envy the drinking…but I did ENVY the ability to just “let go” that others have. And I still do. Maybe that’s why I binge eat–because I want to let it all hang out and play hooky from diabetes.

For me it was a way to “be normal” in my twisted little mind. Both the drinking and the eating were like this. It was defiance and anger for not being able to just be and let go. The problem is that it takes on a life of it’s own and adds to the problems we already have. Not many of us went to see a counselor when we were diagnosed. Getting a diagnosis of a chronic disease that changes how you live your life should be grieved. You should be allowed to talk about it and scream if you need to. Most of us were told by the doctors to just get over it and do the right thing. No one thought about how much this affected our hearts and minds, they just focused on here is how you eat, test, and take insulin.

I am currently in counseling for compulsive binge eating. And it has helped. I am binging less and now able to stop binging when I do. And a few pounds have come off. I was at a point where I was sneaking food and some days eating 2-3x what I did breakfast lunch and supper. Talk with your endo or primary doctor. They might be able to refer you. You can fight it.